This year’s NHL offseason is going to be unlike any we’ve ever seen - and it starts with the 2020 Entry Draft on Tuesday October 6th. Due to the timing of the draft, we are in a situation where many of the European players have started playing their seasons and thus have been able to give scouts more information to evaluate.
The early start to the Swedish season is undoubtedly helping a handful of prospects as Lucas Raymond and Anton Lundell are definitely improving their draft stocks while the CHL and NCAA players are at home waiting to get back on the ice.
With that said, we took a shot at breaking down how we think the first round is going to go.
1. New York Rangers - Alexis Lafreniere - LW - Rimouski (QMJHL)
Tom: This is a no brainer. Lafreniere is the best players in the draft - by a wide margin and will be able to step into the Rangers lineup to make an impact immediately. A three-zone winger who can score while playing with an edge, Lafreniere is as close to a total package as a prospect can get.
2. Los Angeles Kings - Tim Stützle - C/LW - Adler Mannheim (DEL)
Luke: A player that as risen all year long, Tim Stützle will be the first German born player to be selected in the top three since Leon Draisaitl. The Kings will be getting an elite skater, who blends speed and skill with dynamic playing ability. The natural center is very hard working and knows how to use the time and space given. Los Angeles will have an excellent 1-2 punch in the future with Turcotte and Stützle down the middle.
3. Ottawa Senators - Quinton Byfield - C - Sudbury (OHL)
Tom: If Byfield falls to them at three (as many around the draft process think he might), the Senators will go sprinting up to the podium to make the pick. A huge center that has the puck skills that could turn him into an Evgeni Malkin-like player, Byfield would be terrifying with Brady Tkachuk on his wing.
Hardev’s Editor Note: Just going to chime in here and say that I believe Byfield as a prospect is closer to first overall than third in this draft.
4. Detroit Red Wings - Cole Perfetti - C - Saginaw (OHL)
Luke: One of my favorite players of the draft, Perfetti burst on the to scene by being the top scorer at the Hlinka Tournament last fall and helping get Canada a silver medal. Perfetti has elite hockey IQ, an NHL caliber shot and controls the game whenever he has the puck on his stick. Yzerman built Tampa around skill and IQ, I think he might of just taken the next great Red Wing.
Tom’s hot take: Perfetti will end up being the best player to come out of the OHL in this draft class.
5. Ottawa Senators - Lucas Raymond - RW - Frolunda (SHL)
Tom: There are some who believe Lucas Raymond has the second highest ceiling in the draft. The ultra-skilled play-driving winger has the potential to be an offensive superstar. Leaving the top-5 with Byfield and Raymond would be a hell of a haul for the Senators.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Jamie Drysdale - RHD - Erie (OHL)
Luke: Whenever you get a chance to draft the best defenseman in a draft class, you do it. The Ducks will be adding an elite skating, puck moving right-shooting defenseman, who is poised and confident with the puck and is an excellent transitional player. Drysdale will be that "new age" defenseman the Ducks have been looking for.
7. New Jersey Devils - Marco Rossi - C - Ottawa (OHL)
Tom: After setting records for draft eligible production in the OHL, Rossi is a 5’9” center who isn’t afraid to play a lot bigger than his size. There is a lot of Brad Marchand in his game, right down to the dirty streak. He’s the kind of player opponents hate to play against.
8. Buffalo Sabres - Alexander Holtz - RW - Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
Luke: Sabres nation should be thrilled if Holtz is available. Holtz is the best shooter in this draft class. He's a pure sniper with soft hands and a very quick release. Holtz might not be a fast skater but a solid one who won't lag behind. Adding Holtz to a top 6 including Eichel, Skinner, Reinhardt and Cozens, suddenly the sabres are looking very solid up front.
9. Minnesota Wild - Jake Sanderson - LHD - USNTDP
Tom: Sanderson is a big, mobile defenseman that already plays a pro style of game. He is low maintenance and has the potential to grow into a true “all-around” defender in the NHL. He may not have superstar potential but he could turn into one of the best number-2 defenders in the NHL.
10. Winnipeg Jets - Anton Lundell - C - HIFK (Liiga)
Luke: The rich, get richer. Winnipeg have been searching for the center to replace Bryan Little (even before his injury) and Lundell just falls into their lap. Lundell is the best two-way center in the draft. He highlights this by being exceptional in the defensive zone using his elite IQ and great positioning to regain control of the puck and transition out of the zone. In the offensive zone he distributes the puck very well, has a good variety of shots and will be complimented with the high end wing talent Winnipeg has to offer. He is the next great Finnish player to add to their impressive list. What a get for the Jets
11. Nashville Predators - Seth Jarvis - RW - Portland (WHL)
Tom: Like Rossi, Jarvis is a player that would be drafted a few slots higher if he were a couple inches taller. The height won’t scare off Nashville as they get a player who looks an awful lot like Brayden Point did at the same age. He is a puck possession winger who can control the play whenever he’s on the ice.
12. Florida Panthers - Rodin Amirov - LW - Salavat Yulaev (KHL)
Luke: With a new GM in place, the Panthers select Amirov, a true 200 ft winger from Russia. Amirov is solid skater who has a very quick first step allowing him to top speeds quickly. He is an excellent forechecker, backchecker and uses is vision and IQ to make the right play more often than not. His speed forces players to make quick plays which leads to a lot of mistakes. Look for him to continue his development in the KHL this coming year.
13. Carolina Hurricanes - Yaroslav Askarov - G - SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Tom: Carolina selects the best goalie in the draft and a kid who could be only a year away from making an impact in the NHL. He is a true franchise goaltender and one that could set up a team’s security in net for the next two decades.
14. Edmonton Oilers - Jack Quinn - RW - Ottawa (OHL)
Luke: The Oilers head to Ottawa to grab one of the best goal scorers in the draft. Quinn is a solid 200ft winger, while putting up 52 goals this past season. He was a staple on their PK, he brought an effective back pressure, and he really developed a knack for winning board battles and using his high end vision to move the puck effectively. One more year in the OHL will do him some good then look for him to push to make the Oilers squad in 2021-22.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Holloway - C - Wisconsin (NCAA)
Tom: The second youngest player in NCAA last season, Holloway is the kind of player that hockey scouts fall in love with. He’s a low-maintenance center who plays with size and speed. With a tremendous top-speed, Holloway is a three-zone player who plays a lot like Jordan Staal - but faster. A power forward with grit and skill, he’s exactly the kind of player Toronto needs. He would be one of the more low risk picks in the first round.
16. Montreal Canadiens - Hendrix LaPierre - C - Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Luke: Once thought of as a potential top-five pick thanks to an incredible rookie season in the QMJHL, LaPierre has seen his draft stock plummet due to injury. Three serious neck/head injuries saw him only play 19 games this past year. LaPierre is a fantastic playmaking center who has excellent vision and passing abilities. He is solid in all three zones and uses his high end puck skills and vision to advance the zone and keep possession. While there is risk involved, Montreal could be getting a steal here if his injuries are behind him. He would be a great compliment to Caulfield in the Montreal’s future line up.
17. Chicago Blackhawks - Dawson Mercer - RW - Drummondville (QMJHL)
Tom: A hard working forward who uses a a high-end motor to retrieve the puck then utilizes his skill to create offense for himself and his linemates. Able to play all three forward positions, Mercer will likely end up on the wing in the NHL.
18. New Jersey Devils -Braden Schneider - RHD - Brandon (WHL)
Luke: Braden Schneider is the best two-way defenseman in this class. He does everything. He might not have the elite scoring ability of a Drysdale, but the Wheat King defenseman does everything else at a very high level. He is a great penalty killer and is able to transition the puck through the neutral zone with speed. His defensive play is his bread an butter. Braden is mean in front of the net, he kills plays with his high IQ and won’t hesitate to hit a guy to separate him from the puck. He might not become a true number one defenseman, but he has the potential to be a true horse for New Jersey in the future.
19. Calgary Flames - Kaiden Guhle - LHD - Prince Albert (WHL)
Tom: Guhle’s size, skating ability and willingness to play with physicality makes him a prospect that some scouts will fall in love with. To go along with his minute-eating defensive style, he has a heavy shot from the point and the skating ability to make him a true two-way defender. He won’t be a top guy but is the perfect complement to a true number one defender. Guhle has NHL size and should find himself in the Calgary lineup quicker than most others in the draft class.
20. New Jersey Devils -Jérémie Poirier - LHD - Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Luke: If New Jersey walks away from this draft with Rossi, Schneider and Poirier, they will have had a great day. Poirier would be a great compliment to Schneider. He is a solid skater, transition player and is all about offense. He loves jumping into the rush and using his dynamic skill to create offense. He possess a very good shot as well. He didn’t put up 20 goals in the QJMHL by accident. Poirier has a very high ceiling but a lower floor. But if paired with the right guy (see pick 18), he could become the guy they hoped Will Butcher was going to be.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets - Mavrik Bourque - C - Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Tom: Bourque is a highly skilled playmaker with big-time hockey IQ. He sees the game a lot faster than most of his opponents in junior and the hope is that his flashy playmaking can transition to the next level. He’s a little slower than you’d like to see from a player his size - though the same was said about Mitch Marner - but his brain and puck skills more than make up for a lack of explosive skating.
22. New York Rangers -Connor Zary - C -Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Luke: Similar to Dylan Cozens last year, Zary is a do everything well center. He plays a solid all around game and can lead a successful PK unit and can be a key cog on the PP. He can play with elite talent and not look out of place or be the main mannon a line. When looking for that perfect 2C, the Rangers will have it in Zary.
23. Philadelphia Flyers - J.J. Peterka - LW - EHC Munchen (DEL)
Tom: Peterka is an offensive minded winger who burst onto the scene during last year’s World Juniors. He forechecks hard and has a motor that would fit into Philly’s lineup very well. He is a tremendous skater who already plays a pro style of game and is scene as one of the safer picks near the end of the first round.
24. Colorado Avalanche - Lukas Reichel - LW - Eisbären Berlin (DEL)
Luke: The third player taken from Germany, Reichel worked his way to a top-six role while playing in the DEL pro league at only 17-years old. He is quick on his feet and is solid in both the offensive and defensive zones. His most valuable asset is his shot and ability to use it in high danger areas. He will need a bit of time to really round out his his game before making the NHL, but it’s easy to see Reichel taking his talents to the Eagles for the 2021 season in a similar development path as Martin Kaut.
25. Washington Capitals - Jan Mysak - C - Hamilton (OHL)
Tom: Mysak is a boom or bust “swing for the fences” type of pick. He was able to hold his own in the Czech pro league at only 16-years old before coming over to the OHL where he dominated over his two months in the league. He is a smart players who has a very good release but has an awkward skating stride that keeps him from being a top prospect. If he can improve his skating, Mysak could turn into one of the best Czech players to come to the NHL in a long time.
26. St. Louis Blues - Jacob Perreault - RW - Sarnia (OHL)
Luke: The last time St. Louis took a player from the OHL, they walked away with a steal in Robert Thomas. They head back there and take the slightly under rated Perreault, who has been a goal scoring machine for Sarnia. In two OHL seasons he’s scored a nice 69 goals. He has great offensive vision and creates scoring chances very well off the rush.
27. Anaheim Ducks - Noel Gunler - RW - Lulea (SHL)
Tom: One of the more polarizing players in the draft, Gunler is an exceptional offensive talent that leaves scouts wanting more when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick. He has a big, lanky body that needs a little more mass on it but once he matures physically, he’s got the potential to be a true power forward in the NHL.
28. Ottawa Senators - Justin Barron - RHD - Halifax (QMJHL)
Luke: Ottawa goes defensive with their third pick and takes a chance on the highly thought of Barron. While coming in to the season, he was projected as a top defenseman in the class with Drysdale, but a blood clot sidelined him and he never got back on track. But when he plays he is a very effective two-way defenseman who can defend his own zone, using his feet and IQ to escape trouble and can create offense off the rush using speed, vision and a solid shot. This could be a really sneaky get for Ottawa.
29. Vegas Golden Knights - William Wallinder - LHD - MODO (Allsvenskan)
Tom: Wallinder is a big, strong defense-first defender who has shown some enticing improvements in his offensive game. He is a decent puck mover thank to some strong skating and great instincts. He’s a guy that will play in the NHL but might never be more than a second pair defender.
30. Dallas Stars - Tyson Foerster - C - Barrie (OHL)
Luke: Going back to the OHL again, the Stars take Foerster. A solid, offensive minded center, who creates and can finish like the best of them. While he doesn't really have any "OMG" type attributes, he’s very solid in everything he does. He will be another late round center taken from the OHL, who will have people wondering why he dropped so far in the draft.
31. Tampa Bay Lightning - Ozzy Wiesblatt - C - Prince Albert (WHL)
Tom: If there’s one thing the Lightning do well, it’s quietly draft incredibly skilled forwards in the 35-40 range. Wiesblatt is no different. He is one of the faster skaters in the WHL, has a nose for the net and knows how to be a pain in the ass. All aspects of the game that will serve him well at the next level. He’s not very big but he’s very strong, both on his skates and while possessing the puck. He is going to be the next Anthony Cirelli in that he’s making an impact in the Lightning lineup while fans wonder why the rest of the league let him fall in Tampa’s lap on draft day.